Photo credit: Hilltoppersports.com
By Cody Shook, Sports Editor
Kovalick Field will be busy this Friday and Saturday as the Hilltoppers of West Liberty will be taking on the Urbana University Blue Knights in a four-game series. West Liberty will try to continue their hot 13-3 start in Mountain East Conference play. Last weekend, the Hilltoppers split a four-game series with Notre Dame College while only allowing them to score 13 runs.
The Hilltoppers dropped from first place to second place as Shepherd beat Urbana three times in four games, but West Liberty is only one game back in the MEC going into the weekend.
The Hilltoppers are 18-9 overall and 13-3 in conference play. In the 2016 season, West Liberty started their season 17-7 overall, but then went on a slow downhill slide to finish their season 29-25.
Urbana comes into the series with a 12-19 overall record and a 6-10 record in conference games. Last season when these two teams faced off, Urbana came away with the series win, taking three out of four games. The Blue Knights are in fourth place in the northern division of the Mountain East Conference standings. They are in 11th place in total team earned run average with a 7.08. They are right in the middle of the MEC in both batting average (.281) and fielding percentage (.950).
West Liberty finds themselves in first place in the three major statistical categories: batting average, earned run average and fielding percentage. The Hilltoppers are just two points ahead of Concord in the batting average race, posting a .321 average with 17 homeruns, 11 triples and 49 doubles. They also find themselves ahead of rival Wheeling Jesuit for earned run average by just .05 with an era of 4.68 and a .258 batting average.
Two of the top four teams in fielding percentage play all of their home games on turf, and the Hilltoppers have played a healthy portion of their games on turf so far this season, so that boosts them in their top fielding percentage in the MEC with .963.
Leading the way for the Hilltoppers offense is senior designated hitter Mike Adams with a .412 batting average and junior third baseman Nolan Marcus with a .483 on base percentage. Leading the team with five homeruns is junior shortstop Ethan Estes. The pitchers on the mound that are on top of the MEC are Greg Stagani, Yale Hughes, Justin Retzer and Sean Pare, with earned run averages all under four.